Community shows up to push back against new multi-million dollar Medical Examiner’s Office

It was a packed meeting in Jacksonville’s Brentwood neighborhood on Monday night where a new Medical Examiner’s Office is meeting resistance from the community.

Residents in the Brentwood area are not happy about the new Medical Examiner’s Office that’s currently under construction. Monday night’s meeting got heated when the plans for a liquor store the city is buying as part of this project were announced.

RELATED: ‘No one said anything to us’: Community leaders disapprove new $62M medical examiner’s office in Brentwood area

Lydia Bell, president of the Metro Gardens Association in Brentwood, is frustrated with the city of Jacksonville because of how she feels they’ve handled the building of a new Medical Examiner’s Office. She attended Monday night’s meeting for an update on that new building to express her concerns.

“They are supposed to notify us about anything coming into our community. We got no notification of the liquor store, we got no notification of this examiner’s office,” Bell said.

Bell said they only found out about the Medical Examiner’s Office while they were fighting a liquor store opening nearby.

“I’m tired of these segregated city ordinances. In other communities they get notifications, in our community, we don’t get notifications,” she said.

Pittman announced the city would buy the liquor store property and that it would potentially be included in the building of the new Medical Examiner’s Office. It’s not clear how that property will be used just yet. Councilwoman Pittman said she’s trying to make sure residents in her district are informed.

“I can’t say what individuals did or didn’t get because I wasn’t the council person at that time, but why it’s important for me to do it now is because I’m hearing the voices of the residents,” Pittman said.

Senior Assistant General Counsel, Jason Teal, admitted the city dropped the ball with this project. While Bell agrees, she said the community will keep fighting to stop the project.

“You don’t just come into the community and put a morgue, I’m concerned about the health risks for those children. A forensic lab where they have to take off their coats and gloves and where it’s going to be exposed and disposed,” Bell said.

But Councilwoman Pittman said despite the community concerns, there are positives to the new facility.

“In order to bring up the income in this area, economic development sometimes it takes buildings like this that will bring other buildings or small businesses to this area,” Pittman said.

The project is in the early stages of construction and the expected completion date is May 2025.

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